Wayne Dyer’s timeless wisdom on the epidemic of depression and anxiety is as relevant today as it was in 1970 when he gave this talk. The pursuit of the spiritual path doesn’t always have to be so serious. Wayne’s sense of humor and pragmatism were what made his teaching relatable to so many of us.
We live in a world that values knowledge over emotional well-being. In school, we put so much pressure and stress on our children on book learning and acquiring lots of A’s, but spend almost no time on educating young people on how to manage their thoughts and emotions. But all of this knowledge is meaningless when we are upset, angry, anxious, or fearful.
In our society, we are taught to be perfect, not happy. Wayne redefined intelligence as the ability to simply enjoy life and be happy in this moment. Being good at solving equations or using big words are great skills to cultivate, but they have nothing to do with intelligence. “Give me the person who is spontaneous, who is alive, who will try anything, who will wander into new territory, who isn’t afraid of risk-taking, who isn’t afraid of what everybody is thinking of them all the time, who isn’t immobilized by guilt and anxiety, and stress, and I’ll give you the most intelligent person in the room.”
We raise our children to be neurotically pursuing A’s as if they are be-all’s and end-all’s, pushing themselves to be perfectionists at the expense of living in this moment. But what really matters at the end? Is it the classes you took 20 years ago, how many A’s you got, how much money you make, and what your title is? Or is it how you feel about yourself, how much love you have for yourself, and how much confidence you have to pursue the happiness you deserve?
The present moment is all you have. This is it. It’s the only shot you get at life. If you are not living in this moment, and really fulfilling yourself today, and every day, then you ought to examine the thoughts and emotions that are keeping you in the current state that you are in.
Wayne challenged us to get rid of self-defeating thoughts, and the emotions that arise out of them, by stop defending them. So often we fall into an unconscious, familiar pattern where we defend our thoughts, emotions, and behavior as if we are them. When we wake up every day with the same old thoughts that give rise to the same old feelings, and we carry on the same behavior, it’s no wonder that we feel stuck with the same lives.
But we are not defined by our thoughts. We always have a choice on what thoughts we put inside our heads. We are more powerful than we give ourselves credit for. Changing our lives starts with changing our thoughts. When you control your thoughts, you control your feelings. When you control your feelings, you control your actions. When you control your actions, you control your destiny.